School choice opponents doggedly cling to the narrative that there is “no evidence” that voucher students perform better than public school students. When challenged to back up that claim they go silent or pivot to other (mis)information.
Meanwhile, the evidence accumulates to refute their position.
The latest comes from, of all places, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction. Test data released this week shows that, for the second straight year, predominantly low-income voucher students score higher than all public school students on the college-readiness ACT test.
Here are the numbers. ACT scores for choice students in the Milwaukee, Racine, and statewide programs were, respectively, 17.2, 20.0, and 21.3. Scores for all public students were 16.3, 17.5, and 20.0.
Choice students also demonstrated higher proficiency than public school students in their geographic regions on the state’s academic exams.
For example, low-income students in the statewide program (outside of Milwaukee and Racine) were more proficient than low-income public school students in social studies, science, math, and English.
In Milwaukee and Racine, choice students scored higher than low-income public school students in all those categories. However, beginning in 2011, choice students in Milwaukee and Racine include some students from “working class” families. So, while most Milwaukee and Racine choice students are from low income families, some of those students are in homes with somewhat higher incomes.
What’s certain is that opponents of school choice will continue to claim there is “no evidence” that voucher students outperform public school students. What’s also clear is that they are dead wrong.